Mastering A-Level English: The Ultimate Exam Study Guide for Students, Parents and Teachers

As an A-Level English teacher, I always (mostly always because sometimes these kids are super stressed out) enjoy my tutoring sessions with students who are preparing for their exams. Earlier this week, I had an especially fruitful online session with one of my students.Here are some of the key concepts we discussed, as they may benefit other A-Level English students who are also gearing up for their exams.

Analysing the Features of Diverse Text Types

One of the major skills assessed on the exam is the ability to analyse the features and conventions of different text types. I encouraged my student to actively seek out examples of real-world texts, like ads, op-eds, brochures, podcast transcripts, travel guides, etc. and catalog them in a database (I love Obsidian because you can make notes on them in the same place, but you could also load them onto Google drive and add links in a Google sheet). This will help develop familiarity with diverse text types. For each example, students should note details such as:

  • Date
  • Type of text
  • Key features and conventions
  • Intended audience
  • Purpose

Building this database over time will prove invaluable when it comes time to analyse unfamiliar texts in the exam – and when it comes time to write in these different forms.

Distinguishing Between News and Commentary

We also discussed the difference between news reports and article/commentary pieces. While news aims to inform readers about events, articles take a broader approach, providing context, opinions, and analysis. This distinction is important when evaluating the purpose and perspective of a text.

Crafting Descriptive Writing

In addition to analysing texts, students must also demonstrate strong writing skills in the exams. We explored descriptive writing techniques using vivid examples from renowned authors. Good description appeals to the senses and transports the reader into a scene. I encouraged my student to study these examples and take notes on effective techniques to hone their own descriptive writing.

Tackling Paper 1 and Paper 2

Exam success requires tailored preparation for Paper 1 and 2. Paper 1 evaluates reading comprehension and text analysis abilities. Paper 2 assesses writing skills. I suggested strategies like close reading diverse texts to understand rhetorical devices, and clearly communicating ideas for specific purposes and audiences.

Grasping Key Concepts

Finally, we discussed foundational concepts applicable to both exam papers:

  • How language creates meaning and style
  • Audience influence on writers’ choices
  • Using creativity in language
  • Understanding diverse influences on language
  • Language evolution over time

Contemplating these big ideas will enrich students’ analysis and writing.

While you may not have been in the session, you would do well to apply some of these ideas in your own studies. What A level English study strategies have you found most helpful? Please share your insights below!

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